On Easter Sunday, an email went out to the Sid Richardson College listserv from our Chief Justice announcing our traditional end-of-the-year party, Hi-Liter, was effectively canceled. The “administration had some concerns,” and the powers at be determined that instead of the typically well-attended semi-private dry party, Sid would host a Sid-only study break that must end at midnight with “no alcohol consumed at Sid” by anyone — even those that are over 21 years old — and no crawl stops allowed that night. I later found out Wiess college also had their Saturday-night-of-dead-days party canceled. Both events had been planned weeks ahead by a number of people putting in a lot of work and time to make them happen.
At Council on Tuesday night, Sid President Griffin Palmer relayed to us the conversation held between himself, our chief justice, the socials, the Sid and Wiess College masters and Dean Hutchinson. According to Palmer, organizers of the two parties formally filed requests with SJP and SJP denied both requests due to the “weirdness” with the timing of the requests and the fact that dead days start on Saturday — a day Dean Hutch evidently believes should be entirely devoted to studying, especially between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Though Dean Hutch is a good man whose heart is probably in the right place, the three R’s are hardly an excuse for the increasingly overbearing and oppressive administrative body that seeks to control all aspects of student life. When I matriculated in 2013, the various residential colleges seemed autonomous in having powers of self-governance, and as long as we followed general policies and avoided the attention of local news stations we were given the respect we young adults deserved.
But apparently, the nannying administrative hive of this university now thinks of us as children, incapable of making any decision without direct consultation from Big Brother.
Currently, Dean Hutch stands by his justification that dead days are for studying. But I think it is clear to all students that these parties would have a negligible effect in that regard. Many options exist for any poor soul who chooses to study for final exams between the desolate hours of 10 and 2 on a Saturday night. I have found headphones particularly effective in drowning out noise, and of course Fondren will be open for those particularly studious pre-meds. Ah, but perhaps by having fun social events the students might be tempted into — Willy forbid — not studying or otherwise preparing for exams for one evening. Why does the administration feel as if studying, classwork and grades are the most important aspect of the university experience? Surely such a short-sighted view of personal growth is not in the mission statement of this — ahem — prestigious university. Not to mention that, by suggesting Hi-Liter would negatively impact final exam scores, the administration effectively admits responsibility for any low scores that students suffered every previous year when Hi-Liter was “allowed” to continue. All this to say, the justifications for this decision are absurd.
To any individual or institution in the administrative body who took the liberty to take away our liberty, I ask: Why are you infringing on our rights to party? Why do you think it is appropriate to micromanage our college experience? What gives you the moral authority to dictate how we spend our Saturday nights? And lastly, what sort of college do you want Rice to be — one where irresponsible children take rigorous course loads, study constantly and do as they are told, or one where developing young adults take charge of their own lives, learn to properly express their thoughts and feelings and question the status quo?
This injustice alone may seem small, but it is a constituent of a larger pattern of administrative overreach growing in ferocity over the past few years. On behalf of myself and those who agree but are too timid to step up and do anything about it, I would like to say, plainly: Get off our backs.
Sam Pearson, Sid Richardson, Class of 2017
May 22: The title of this article was edited to remove its classification as a Letter to the Editor.